Author: Corey Ann Haydu
Published: May 12th, 2015 (Katherine Tegen Books)
Genres/Themes: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Friendship, Family
Source: I received an eARC curtesy of Edelweiss and Katherine Tegen Books in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts are my own.
Rating: Five Stars
Montana and her sister, Arizona, are named after the mountainous states their mother left them for. But Montana is a New York City girl through and through, and as the city heats up, she’s stepping into the most intense summer of her life.
With Arizona wrapped up in her college world and their father distracted by yet another divorce, Montana’s been immersing herself in an intoxicating new friendship with a girl from her acting class. Karissa is bold, imperfectly beautiful, and unafraid of being vulnerable. She’s everything Montana would like to become. But the friendship with Karissa is driving a wedge between Montana and her sister, and the more of her own secrets Karissa reveals, the more Montana has to wonder if Karissa’s someone she can really trust.
In the midst of her uncertainty, Montana finds a heady distraction in Bernardo. He’s serious and spontaneous, and he looks at Montana in the way she wants to be seen. For the first time, Montana understands how you can become both lost and found in somebody else. But when that love becomes everything, where does it leave the rest of her imperfect life?
Purchase: Barnes and Noble / Amazon / Book Depository
Cover Thoughts: I love how the cover only features part of the girl’s face and shows different images in the background, like part of New York and another girl.
First Line: June 2
The list of Things To Be Grateful For
Hold on, I’m just going to highlight an entire page.
I love how Montana is portrayed as a somewhat lost girl clinging to Karissa. I can relate to Montana really well so far. Her sister’s gone away to college and returns for summer break. I love how connected Montana once felt with Arizona before college. Those are the hardest relationships to lose. I love the family dynamics. I’m not sure how I feel about Karissa yet though, but I can understand why Montana wants to hang out with her more. Arizona and her aren’t connected anymore.
Can I declare it the year of contemporary fiction? This is the fourth amazing contemporary book I’ve read this year and they just keep coming. I highlighted so much throughout Making Pretty on my Kindle. It was a ridiculous amount like entire pages. I loved the way it was written.
Oh my goodness, if you want an addictive read for the summer, look no further, I’ve got it right here. When I requested Making Pretty, I didn’t think a whole lot about it to be honest. I knew I was interested in it for a couple of reasons, the family dynamics, Karissa, and the setting of New York City. I knew the author was very well liked having already previously written two successful Young Adult novels.
If I had known I would love Making Pretty so much, I would have started it sooner. If you’ve been on my blog, you may have noted my post on five reasons why you need this book in your life. The great thing about it is that there are more than five reasons why Making Pretty is so great.
What I especially loved about Making Pretty were all of the different aspects that were going on and how they worked together. I loved how Making Pretty explored all of these different relationships, sister relationships; friendships; her relationship with her father, and her romantic relationship. I like how everything sort of melted over into everything else.
There were so many family dynamics in Making Pretty from Montana’s sister, Arizona to her relationship with her father, to Montana and Arizona’s former stepmoms. I loved how each of these things impacted the other.
In Making Pretty, the story revolves around Montana whose sister has just returned from her first year away at college. Montana thinks she and Arizona will pick up right back where they left off at. Unfortunately, Arizona’s changed not only her personality, but also her breast size. This sends Montana into confusion, unable to understand why her sister would do this. It also leads Montana to realizing she and Arizona are not the same person and maybe they never were. I really liked how Montana and Arizona’s relationship was portrayed. From Montana’s perspective, their relationship was always close before.
I loved reading from Montana’s point of view. I connected with her immediately and it was clear to me why she clung to Karissa so fast. Karissa plays an interesting part in this entire book. It’s very unique.
While away at college, Arizona got breast implants, this throws Montana for a loop because they had both decided they would never get them. This was because their father was a plastic surgeon who would always marry women and then try to make them better. Montana feels like Arizona is becoming one of the stepmoms because she’s suddenly like them, getting surgery. This causes Montana and Arizona to have a strained relationship over the summer.
I love how Montana and Arizona had this close relationship before that always somewhat excluded their friend Roxanne at times. I liked that they had a connection to each other because of the stepmoms and because of them, they always leaned on each other. They would make up games such as guessing how long their father and the stepmom of the moment would last as well as figuring out which stepmom left which item in the closet of forgotten things. I liked how although these things seemed cruel, they were how Montana and Arizona dealt with things. They knew none of their stepmoms would ever really last in a relationship with their father who strived for perfection.
One thing I loved is how Montana had a secret desire to learn more about the stepmoms. One of the stepmoms was Natasha. I loved seeing Montana’s relationship with Natasha and it’s interesting seeing her never knowing who the stepmoms were when they they weren’t with her father anymore. I liked how Natasha and Montana both kept journals to write their List of Things To Be Grateful for. That was cool and inspiring to me.
Montana’s father fell in love hard and fast or he was at least very infatuated. He’s had several wives by the time Making Pretty begins and soon enough, he gets another one. This sends Montana’s world spinning. Montana’s father was an interesting character, he had depth so even though I wanted to hate him, I know he did love Montana. He does several things that made me want to scream though, I couldn’t understand some of the things he did as a father. I hated the way he acted a lot of times and how he always took the stepmoms into account over his own daughters. He always rushed in and he didn’t care if his daughters were uncomfortable with it at all. He frustrated me so much.
The key difference between Montana and her father are the way their relationships work. At least, that’s what Montana thinks. Montana finds her relationship with Bernardo to be very deep, as teenagers sometimes think. She finds her father to be making mistake after mistake and believes the relationships will never last. I loved that Montana’s relationship with Bernardo wasn’t perfect. He did things she didn’t like and he did things she didn’t like.
When I read Making Pretty, I noticed they were both very parallel in the way they loved. Both fell fast and hard and changed their lives to involve that person a lot. In Montana’s father’s case, he would always ask the woman to marry her, they would say yes and a time later, they would ultimately divorce and the pattern would continue. With Montana, she found herself in Bernardo and fell for him quickly. They developed an Eros love style which is a highly intense, passionate and sensual kind of love. I thought it was interesting how Montana thought she was different, when a lot of the times, she was more similar to her father than she thought.
In the beginning of the book, Montana is friends with Karissa, a slightly older woman who she’s enthralled by. And it makes sense, Karissa comes across as bigger than life. At times she definitely came across as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl but she completely destroyed that stereotype and put a very interesting spin on the MPDG attribute.
I loved that Montana latched onto Karissa quickly because she was there and her sister wasn’t. Karissa reached out to her as well and they formed a sort of bond in one night. Of course, over the period of the book, this bond shifts and changes as Montana has to eventually choose between Karissa and her own sister. And Karissa isn’t exactly the best person for Montana necessarily and their relationship definitely isn’t the healthiest. Karissa reminded me of the character Evie in the movie Thirteen. Wild, influential, tragic backstory, impulsive and to a point, manipulative. I loved getting to know Karissa.
When Arizona meets her, she of course has immediate problems with her for a variety of reasons. I loved their scenes together because they rang so true. Of course Arizona wouldn’t care for Karissa very much because Montana was HER sister. Montana ends up being torn between the two and leaning on Bernardo more than before.
Besides the different aspects, I loved the setting. Making Pretty takes place in New York and Haydu just completely threw me into the city. The descriptions Montana used were so engaging. It made me wish I lived in New York. It really added something to the setting, like somehow, it made it feel like this could all really happen. I found all of the characters so relatable, none of them were perfect and they all made mistakes. They were all angry and sad and happy and I loved seeing a range of emotions from them.
That was one addictive read. Making Pretty features one of the best family dynamic plots I’ve ever seen. I loved the distorted family life and how consistent it was. Montana was a layered, interesting character to read about and I loved her personality and how she wasn’t perfect. I recommend this book wholeheartedly . It deals with intriguing issues such as the plastic surgeon father, which I didn’t want to get too into, so I didn’t spoil anything, but I’ll say there’s a bit more to that than I said and it made me angry. I loved how having a plastic surgeon as a father affected how Montana thought of herself. I love that it talked about the media and society’s expectations in an offhanded way. This was shown not only with how Montana’s father acted towards his countless ex wives, but also his own children. Making Pretty is a great book and I rate it five stars.